The little money left over after taking care of necessities wasn’t enough for a transatlantic pleasure trip. Rustic adventure travel on the cheap was not an option. From my perspective, growing up in the car jacking capital of the world, where crack vials and crime tape were neighborhood staples was adventure enough for me. If I went on vacation I wanted to stay in a proper hotel with proper amenities and private rooms. In America I spoke the language, I was comfortable, and had an amazing support system. I believed I had a good understanding of the world around me and felt no immediate need to expand my universe.
As I mentioned before traveling never used to be a priority of mine. I covered thousands of miles within the United States and North America and still hadn’t experienced most of the diversity within my country of citizenship. I didn’t see a need to go abroad to explore different landscapes and cultures. Not only was the desire missing, there was no money to make it happen.
My first time in Europe was a total fluke. I worked for an office that occasionally sent staff overseas for 6 months at a time. I went to London, England, proved myself indispensable and the opportunity grew into a three year assignment. Once based in London, the Atlantic was behind me, I suddenly had access to amazing cities that were only a few hours and a couple quid away. I also had friends, family and colleagues encouraging me to take advantage of my position and see more of the world.
A trip to Paris on the Eurostar was my first city break. I never understood just how close things were on mainland Europe. Four hours on a train in America, and I would barely get to another state, nevertheless into a totally different country with a different language. This was amazing. I could leave on Friday, fly back on Monday morning in time for work complete with a new stamp on my passport. I had reached the stage 5 level of wanderlust within 8 months.
I grew to love the travel experience. Not the packing or the flying but actually breathing the air of a different city. Each country had it’s own history, cuisine, fashion and nightlife, and I was open to it all. Surprisingly it wasn’t just me learning about a new culture but also about people learning about me. I often found myself being an ambassador for Black American women, conversing with people that had only seen the often negative portrayals of us in mainstream media. Many of my travels were not only eye opening experiences for me, but for the people around me.
Don’t get me wrong, my adventures were not purely in the interest of science and cultural exchange. I partied in the way of the locals, stayed in lovely boutique hotels and ate some really great food. Traveling for me continues to be a luxury that I would never want to live without. I recognize it as a priority and I budget and plan accordingly for it. Currently my short haul options are running out so I will soon venture to South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Even after visiting 32 countries and having lived in 3 different countries I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. Stay tuned!!
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